Hawaii, the Aloha State: Part 3
Aloha! Well, if you've read my first two articles, you might remember that I told you there was Snow Skiing in Hawaii! Hawaii and Snow? Well, it’s true. On the Big Island of Hawaii the two tallest volcanoes, Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, get snow. Beware, though, because there are no ski lifts, so 4-wheel drive vehicles and guides are required. February and March seem to have the best snow, and there is approximately 100 square miles of area to ski and snowboard in. Wow, go snow skiing in the morning and surfing in the afternoon, all in the same place.
And speaking of volcanoes, Hawaii has both the largest volcano ( Mauna Loa at 13,677 feet) and the most active ( Kilauea), and those lava flows are actually making Hawaii bigger! The first recorded eruption at Kilauea was in 1790, and has basically been continuously active since 1924. The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was established in 1916, with more than half designated as wilderness. You can even camp there!
Surfing and the Big Kahuna! Sun, sand and big waves. Surfing, or as it was originally called, wave sliding, has been a favorite recreation of Hawaiians since the 15th century. King Kamehamaha and his Queen Kaahumanu were great surfers. Until 1907, surfing was mostly known only in Hawaii. George Freeth, 24 years old, was an accomplished surfer who was brought to LA on a publicity tour in what would become Huntington Beach, CA. He stayed in California and became a life guard and taught the sport to all those California boys (and girls!).
Did you know that Gidget, the main character in many beach movies of the 60s, was based on a real life surfer? Her name was Kathy Khroner but her nickname was Gidget! And let’s not forget the beach movies gave us some really fun rock 'n roll music, and surfer wear! Those long baggy surf trunks were actually made to keep the board wax from giving your legs a nasty rash.
Surfing had been a mostly Hawaiian sport, then became a Pacific Coast sport and then exploded internationally. From France, to Bali to Australia, you'll find surfers.
The first time I heard the phrase "the Big Kahuna" was in some beach movie, probably starring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello. While doing my research, I wanted to find out if that was just a Hollywood invention or if it was a real term. Well, it’s real. In traditional Hawaiian, Kahuna means a priest, expert or teacher. Hollywood used Big Kahuna to mean the best surfer on the beach. Kahuna is even a computer slang, meaning wizard or guru. It's a word that has actually retained one of its original meanings, expert. The first Big Kahuna was Duke Paoa Kahinu Mokoe Hulikohola Kahanamoku, father (and some say inventor) of modern surfing. By the way, Duke was his given name, not a title. He also won gold and silver medals for swimming in 3 different Olympics, and in 1924 took the silver while Johnny Weismuller (the best Tarzan EVER) took the gold. Alas, surfing didn't become an Olympic sport until 1974.
Talented Ladies: What do Bette Midler, Kelly Hu, Kelly Preston, Nicole Kidman and Tia Carrere have in common? Yes, I know they are all entertainers/actresses, but they were all born in Hawaii! Nicole Kidman threw me, because I've always thought of her as an Australian actress, but she didn't move to Australia until she was 3 years old.
Hawaiian Economy: Tourism is, obviously, the biggest industry in Hawaii. I did an impromptu survey the other day in my local grocery and when asked if someone offered a fully paid vacation to anywhere in the world, the overwhelming first response was Hawaii. Other industries include the export of nursery stock (all those exotic blossoms!), pineapples, macadamia nuts, coffee, and of course, sugar cane. Hawaii also has a high state tax rate for its citizens and businesses, but all those tourists help out by paying sales tax. Another encouraging industry is the Hawaiian-bred, grass-fed beef livestock exports. So does the steer say "Aloha Mooo?" (Silly me!).
Well, I've written three short articles about Hawaii, and there's so much more. If you'd like to know more, go to your favorite search engine and type in your topics of choice. You can also use wailuabay.com Search by Keyword function.